What are Brain Tumors & What Causes Them?
This is a question I am often asked by patients. To this day, this is still the question my mother asks me from time to time as my father passed away from a glioblastoma in 2003. Have they found a cause yet? The unfortunate answer is, not yet. There are many types of primary brain tumors, but the most common are gliomas. Of the gliomas, the high grade gliomas are the most common in adults over the age of 40 to 50. Glioblastoma (grade 4 astrocytoma) is the most aggressive and most common glioma seen in adults. Gliomas are rare in the cancer world. There are far less gliomas than the more common malignant cancers which include lung, breast, prostate, colon, and blood cancers. However, as many as 20,000 new people in the United States will be diagnosed with a glioma every year. It is our job to raise awareness of these less common, but extremely devastating tumors. Raising awareness will lead to increased research dollars for investigating the cause and ultimately leading to the cure for these tumors.
— a message from Ryan T. Merrell, MD
Resources We Found Helpful
Prior to Michael Schostok’s diagnosis, most of those close to him did not realize the large number of people impacted by malignant brain tumors. Each year, 8.2 of every 100,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with primary malignant brain tumors. This number represents approximately 2% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States.
Currently, 29.5 of every 100,000 people in the U.S. have primary malignant brain tumors (just diagnosed or under treatment). A primary brain tumor forms in the brain and rarely ‘seed’ to other parts of the body.
Unfortunately, approximately 13,000 Americans die of malignant brain tumors every year, representing about 2% of all U.S. cancer deaths. Approximately 55% of these deaths are men. It should be noted that the single most important factor related to incidence of and survival from malignant brain tumors is age: the prognosis is more favorable in the under-40 age group.
Malignant tumors are life-threatening, invade surrounding normal brain tissue, and usually grow rapidly. These tumors generally do not have distinct borders and may spread to other areas in the brain or spine. A brain tumor may be malignant if it invades surrounding tissue, if it is in a critical area of the brain, or if it is life-threatening. The term malignant can also describe a benign tumor that behaves aggressively, or a benign tumor that is life-threatening because of its location.
Primary malignant brain tumors include: glioblastomas, most of the astrocytomas, and some oligodendrogliomas and ependymomas. All metastatic brain tumors are malignant but are considered secondary brain tumors as they have “seeded” from other areas of the body.
There are over a hundred different kinds of primary brain tumors, some very rare. However, not all brain tumors, or even all malignant brain tumors, are invariably fatal. With surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, some types of tumors respond very well to therapy and may even be cured. While many of the more common tumors, such as Glioblastomas, are not typically cured by surgical resection, there are more long-term survivors now than ever before, as new treatments have been introduced.
The links below were helpful to the Schostok family and can direct you to valuable information related to brain tumors, including resources for the newly diagnosed, research, treatments and other fundraising activities.
Links We Found Helpful & Inspiring
As we discover new links that we believe is compelling, we build a list here.